* Copper imports at 350,000 T vs 380,000 T in May
* H1 imports rise 25.9 pct yr-on-yr to 2.52 million T
By Polly Yam
HONG KONG, July 10 China's copper imports fell
7.9 percent month-on-month in June, dropping as Chinese banks
reduced lending for metals imports following a probe into an
alleged metals fraud at Qingdao port.
Arrivals of copper anode, refined metal, alloy and
semi-finished copper products stood at 350,000 tonnes in June,
their lowest level since April 2013, data from the General
Administration of Customs showed on Thursday.
That was down from 380,000 tonnes in May when inflows dived
15.6 percent from the month before.
In the first half of 2014, imports rose 25.9 percent
year-on-year to 2.52 million tonnes, the data showed.
The month-on-month fall in June was in line with market
expectations. Traders said trading of copper stocks in China's
bonded zones came to a virtual halt and banks froze lending for
metals imports when news of the alleged fraud came to light in
early June, cutting demand for spot imports.
The fall in June is due to the Qingdao case, which virtually
brought trading to a halt," said Zhou Jie, trading manager at
China International Futures (Shanghai) Co Ltd.
"Even now, banks are very cautious in giving letters of
credit for copper imports," said Zhou, who expects imports to
stay weak in July.
The suspected financing fraud at Qingdao port centred on a
local company that allegedly used multiple warehouse receipts
for the same metal cargo to obtain financing.
A China-based trader who works for a Western supplier said
some term shipments of refined copper scheduled to arrive
Shanghai in June had been diverted to South Korea.
A source at a large factory which uses refined copper to
manufacture semi-finished copper products said one Japanese
copper supplier had bought bonded stocks in Shanghai and
delivered the stocks to his company as term shipments in June,
cutting the supplier's China-bound shipments.
Importers increased spot refined copper purchases later in
the month, but traders said the buying was not sufficient to
offset the fall earlier.
Reflecting demand for imported refined copper, premiums for
bonded stocks in Shanghai fell to near one-and-a-half years lows
of about $55-$70 in mid-June and the premium rebounded to
$90-$115 at the end of month, traders said.
(Reporting by Polly Yam; Editing by Joseph Radford)